A Call to Prayer
As the political turmoil in our nation continues, how should we, as evangelical Christians, respond?
In his recent blog post titled A Fertile Land Inhabited by Cowards, David Robertson said he was sitting in Glasgow airport in tears over the state of parliament, and claimed our country was being “governed by a parliament led by incompetent, dishonest, clowns.”
I confess that I despair of the situation, and that, even as one who trusts in our sovereign God who has promised to “work all things together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes” (Romans 8:28), I find fear lurking just below the surface.
I suspect I’m not alone, and if we who are looking forward to a better country feel this way, what is the state of mind among those around us who have no hope?
What should the church’s response be to the situation when our nation seems to be teetering on the edge? And what should our lost, fearful society and our neighbourhoods, see us doing in response to the situation?
People of God
Unlike other pressing issues like the question of gender fluidity or same sex marriage, taking a stubborn position either way on the Brexit debate will only add to the tension. Neither do I have any intention of debating the rights or wrongs of our politicians’ arguments. But I’m sure you’ll all agree that such a time as this calls for faithful prayer rising from the redeemed people of God.
This article therefore is simply a call to prayer, and I humbly want to state why I think it’s so important that we pray especially at this time.
1. Because we are called to pray for “kings and those in high positions…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
When Paul instructed Timothy to pray for the government of the day, he was fully aware of what that looked like in 1st Century Ephesus, where the worship of the goddess Artemis was the order of the day.
It would be easy for us to simply dismiss our seemingly godless politicians, and to pray instead that they be replaced by some who resemble more closely our ideals. But I’m reminded of Cyrus, the king who was used by God to enable the return of the exiles to Jerusalem in 539 BC, and facilitated the rebuilding of the temple.
The way God speaks of Cyrus in Isaiah 44-45 is remarkable: “He is my shepherd, and shall fulfil all my purpose” (44:28). And yet he was a pagan king of whom God said: “I name you, though you do not know me… I equip you, though you do not know me…” (45:4,5).
The fact that many of our politicians seem to pay no regard to the things of God is no obstacle to God using them to bring about his purposes.
2. Because fellowship with God and each other in prayer quietens our hearts in the midst of turmoil
The Psalmist’s words “Be still, and know that I am God” in Psalm 46:10 have been a balm to many of God’s children in stormy times. The words of verse six provide the context: “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter…”. There are no surprises in God’s court room! There is nothing new under the sun.
I’m reminded of David when he returned to Ziklag only to find it a smouldering ruin, and the families of his men taken captive by marauding Amalekites. As we read about David’s deep sense of despair at the loss of his family, and with his men threatening to stone him, we’re told: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).
What a lesson to us in these tumultuous times! Let’s strengthen each other in the Lord our God as we bow our knee in submissive prayer. Our eternal home will then be seen more clearly with the eye of faith, and our role to greater gospel endeavour will take a more prominent place in our thoughts.
3. Because our neighbours need to see that we really do believe our God is the answer
I’m often ridiculed by my farming neighbours for not farming on Sundays, especially on a sunny Sunday morning after a wet week. Our harvester stays in the barn while our neighbours watch us from their tractors as we make our way to church! They get the point, as our claim to trust God for seed time and harvest is played out before their eyes.
We are those who believe that God provides a life that goes beyond our earthly existence, and that we are part of a kingdom that is not restricted by the boundaries of political incompetence. But does the world see that in the ways in which we worship?
I think it’s important that our nation begins to hear of and witness God’s people doing what they claim to believe. Prayer is an expression of our dependence on God, so let’s let the world know that our reaction to the turmoil is to pray to, and put our trust in, God. Let this call to prayer be known by the society in which we live.
David Robertson’s blog is online at theweeflea.com